Academic Minute Podcast

C. Michael White, University of Connecticut – Ketamine Can Rapidly Reduce Symptoms in Patients with Severe PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder causes many issues for those afflicted.

C. Michael White, distinguished professor and chair of pharmacy practice at the University of Connecticut, details one avenue of treatment.

Dr. White’s ~500 peer reviewed publications about drug therapy and safety have resulted in 17,353 citations, H-index of 67, and i10 index of 258; placing him within an elite group of scholars. His work has been published in JAMA, Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine and Circulation with research coverage by NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, BBC, CNN, CNBC, NY Times, Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, Newsweek, and Prevention Magazine. Research awards include the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Young Investigator of the Year, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Lyman Award and Weaver Award, and six-time recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Drug Therapy Research Award. In 2016 he received the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Award for Sustained Contributions to the Literature, a lifetime achievement award for scholarly excellence.

Ketamine Can Rapidly Reduce Symptoms in Patients with Severe PTSD

After experiencing physical or mental trauma from sexual or physical assault, combat, or a natural disaster, some people develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This is a debilitating disease for about 13 million Americans that can cause flashbacks, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. These manifestations of PTSD can be so distressing that the risk of people attempting suicide is doubled. Traditional therapies like trauma informed psychotherapy and antidepressant medications used alone or in combination are effective for many people.

Unfortunately, these therapies take 5 or more weeks to provide benefits leaving some people at risk in the interim. Ketamine is a drug used for anesthesia but has more recently been explored to treat major depression in suicidal patients. In our new meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials, we evaluated ketamine in patients with severe PTSD. Ketamine was shown to reduce PTSD symptoms by about 25% one day after therapy. The benefits of ketamine are shown to persist at 1 and 2 weeks after dosing before dwindling over the next two weeks. It is unclear to what extent re-dosing ketamine can extend the duration of the benefit and more research is needed.

Ketamine is very expensive to use, it can be addictive, and it isn’t more effective than other treatments will eventually provide. So, it is not a replacement for psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs. However, given its rapid onset of action, it could be a bridge for patients who cannot safely wait for relief from their severe PTSD symptoms.

Read More:
[Sage Journals] – The Impact of Ketamine for Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analyses


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